Director: Matt Mulhern
Screenwriters: Matt Mulhern

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


What a rare thing it is, for most of us, to stop and wonder how we've come to live the life we're leading. To wake up and ask, "What choices brought me here?" This beautifully nuanced film explores the carelessness and misfortunes that can call a life into question.

Recently divorced, Duane Hopwood is working graveyard at Caesar's in Atlantic City, a routine that makes it easy for him to rationalize a few drinks after the shift ends at noon. Living for the brief time he spends with his two young daughters and the ex-wife he still cares for, Duane has simply allowed his life to drift into a lonely, tawdry, alcoholic haze. And then a few very bad decisions—one of which involves a flask of booze, a highway patrolman, and his small daughter asleep in the backseat—threaten to make his mediocre life more miserable than he ever imagined possible. With everything meaningful hanging in the balance, Duane begins to wake up to the realities of his life.

With a wonderful sense of place—the bleached hues of the windy winter coast are particularly memorable—Matt Mulhern's moving film boasts performances filled with humor and warmth, including a standout turn by David Schwimmer, who is unforgettable as the hapless, but all too human, Duane Hopwood.

— Elizabeth Richardson

Screening Details

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